Agency to allow public petitions on consumer rules, require lobbyists to do same

Direct public petitions for rulemaking, or changes to rules, will now be part of the federal consumer financial protection agency’s regulatory process, the agency announced Wednesday, along with more transparency for former federal employees and paid lobbyists who may approach the agency about its rules.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the “reforms” to its rulemaking process are intended to make it easier for individuals to directly request pursuit by the agency of a new rule, amend an existing one, or repeal a rule.

The CFPB also said that under the new process, “former government employees and other individuals who are paid to influence the agency’s rulemaking agenda behind the scenes will be asked to submit their petition for public inspection instead.”

“The CFPB is committed to transparency and listening to the concerns, suggestions, and ideas of the public it serves,” the agency said in a release. “The public’s petitions will help the CFPB identify consumer protection issues worthy of reform, rulemaking, or in need of further clarification.”

The bureau asserted that the new process “is in line with recommendations issued by the Administrative Conference of the United States for improving transparency and ensuring that the public has a meaningful opportunity to petition the government.”

CFPB said the announcement is part of a series of steps it is taking to ensure high standards of transparency and ethics, particularly when it comes to addressing the corrosive effects of the “revolving door.” That refers to the practice of former government officials joining lobbying firms after they leave office, only to return later when administrations change.

The agency said it recently announced new staff guidance to report former government employees that may be misusing information they obtained while working in the government.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Launches New Way for the Public to Petition the Agency for Action